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Taiwan's wish for wider WHO participation made clear: minister

2012/05/23 22:24:47

Geneva, May 23 (CNA) Taiwan's Health Minister Chiu Wen-ta said Wednesday the nation's firm stance on wanting full participation in World Health Organization-related issues was clearly expressed in his speech at a meeting of the WHO's policy-making forum in Geneva earlier in the day.

In an address at the plenary session of the World Health Assembly (WHA), Chiu appealed to WHO member states to support wider participation for Taiwan, which currently has observer status in the decision-making arm of the organization.

The message was clear, Chiu said after his speech on Taiwan's National Health Insurance program.

Moreover, the Taiwan delegation was taking every opportunity to express to the international community the country's hope for greater participation in the WHO, based on the WHA model, Chiu added.

He said his appeal drew positive responses from several countries, but many tended to be more conservative in light of the political reality.

At the beginning of Chiu's speech, he shared Taiwan's experience in implementing its national health insurance (NHI) system in 1995.

It is "a single-payer program and compulsory for everyone. Currently, 99.6% of the population is covered, including foreign nationals who possess residence permits," Chiu said.

More than three million economically disadvantaged residents have benefited from measures such as premium subsidies, relief loans and installment plans, he said.

"In 2011, delegations from over 50 countries visited Taiwan to study our NHI program," Chiu said. "Many international media, including the Economist, CNN, etc., have programs introducing our system."

Lauding the program as "fair, affordable and efficient," Chiu also said it has challenges and problems such as overworked medical personnel, human resource shortages and financial sustainability.

The minister also took the opportunity to "pay his highest respects" to the medical professionals in Taiwan.

"Health care personnel in Taiwan, you've done a great job. Keep going, everyone," he said.

Meanwhile, the Taiwan delegation said Tuesday it planned to submit a letter of protest to WHO Director General Margaret Chan to express concern over the WHO's reference to Taiwan as a province of China.

However, Chiu said it would be better to discuss the issue after the upcoming election for WHO head. Chan is the only nominee and is poised to be re-appointed for the second term at the assembly, which runs through May 26.

(By Tsao Yu-fan and Kendra Lin)
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